1. Failing to detect hazards
Untrained riders will normally NOT develop appropriate scanning techniques which is critical to accident avoidance since the more time you have to react the more favorable the outcomes. Or they completely fail to recognize a hazard and therefore make no adjustments to provide an escape.
The sad reality of motorcycling is you are less conspicuous than larger vehicles and often your ability to avoid hazards depends on your awareness in traffic situations that you may be invisible to other road users, which will definitely require adjustments on your part in speed and lane position.
2. Over-braking the rear
Would you drive your car with only 30 to 40 per cent braking available?
Our investigations show untrained riders continually over-brake the rear often to the exclusion of the front brakes. Obviously this will increase your stopping distances and chances of a collision. Many riders don’t even recall whether they applied any front braking at all. That tells me they don’t incorporate the front brakes regularly to develop muscle memory, which will reveal itself under stress or emergency situations.
Furthermore, if you don’t properly ride out a rear brake lock up two worse things can occur. You will induce a slide-out, again, increasing your stopping distance because know your sliding on metal or worse if you release the rear brake while the bike is leaning you can induce a ‘high-side’, which is worse because you get launched off the bike into the path of whatever happens to be in the way.
3. Curve negotiation
The following errors are the most prevalent:
a) Coming into a curve to fast – this is caused mostly by riders failing to recognize the severity of the curve, riders will usually opt to apply brakes while leaning to reduce speed which inevitably will create a loss off traction
b) Failing to look through the curve (often staring at an obstacle) – many riders hit fixed objects off the roadway while negotiating curves; this is attributable to becoming fixated on a target which will widen your line (you tend to go where you look on a motorcycle)
c) Failing to maximize lean angle for the speed – many riders fail to utilize the available lean angle necessary to carry them through the curve at the selected speed; there is the occasional leaning too much and exceeding the available lean angle; often excessive leaning is a fall-back tactic to compensate for excessive entry speed.
c) Applying brakes while leaning – cornering places a demand on your available traction; riders that choose to brake while cornering exceed the available traction; again, often as a poor fall-back plan for inappropriate entry speed.
d) Line selection – riders choose a line through a curve that carries them across the centerline or are to close to the center of the roadway placing them in the path of an approaching vehicle which may me over their centerline.
Often in our investigations, it appears the rider turned into a vehicle when they could have easily steered around it. Or they fail to take any evasive move whatsoever when a swerve could have avoided a collision. Or they run over an obstacle that could have been avoided.
We attribute this mistake to lack of counter-steering knowledge. Motorcycles traveling at speed have precise steering input only if applied correctly. It is the opposite of slow speed steering. In a parking lot, if you want to turn right you push forward the left handle bar (right handle bar comes in nearest the rider) and you turn right. At speed to turn right you do the opposite. To swerve you push forward on the right handle bar which induces a lean to the right.
You can imagine the problems a rider has if he is pushing left when he is intending to go right.
5. Failing to train
We feel failing to train is a big mistake and worthy of the top 5. Many crashes occur with unlicensed, untrained riders. Many crashes would be avoided if only the basics were applied. Unlicensed and untrained are over-represented in crashes. This is a horrible mistake because motorcycle crashes can be very unforgiving. I know several riders that have lifetime disabilities and loss of limbs attributable to their inexperience.
Inexperience always leads to riding beyond your ability.